…virtually all academic effects [of Head Start] disappear by the end of 1st grade. There is only one positive statistically significant finding out of eleven academic outcomes measured, the size of that effect is minuscule by recognized standards … We have spent more than $100 billion on the program to date … and HHS’s own research shows that its results diminish to essentially nothing by the end of the first grade.
Well, that’s a shocker. A government program that wastes a ton of money with neglible results. (That actually puts it ahead of many other government schemes that actually have extremely negative results; that’s the category ObamaCare will be in if it passes.) In a later post, Coulson explains that the results are actually worse than he’d originally thought. So, are there alternatives to Head Start?
There are other government education programs whose effects actually grow substantially over time, and that are comparatively economical. Consider the federal DC voucher program. Just a year or two after switching from public to private schools, the effect of the private schooling was not big enough to rise to the level of statistical significance. But by their third year in private schools, the evidence was clear that voucher-receiving students were reading more than two grade levels above a randomized control group that stayed in public schools. This program, as I’ve previously documented, costs 1/4 as much per pupil as DC spends on public education: about $6,600 vs. $28,000.
Well then, obviously the answer is to defund Head Start and raise spending on school vouchers, right?
But Congress, and particularly Democrats, have defunded the DC voucher program while raising spending on Head Start. President Obama is at the forefront of this travesty. If you weren’t already jaded and disgusted by education politics and its domination by employee unions opposed to educational choice, start now.
Amazing how often they invoke “think of the children!” when attacking other people’s programs and plans, but how little their programs and plans actually do to help children. As always, politics trumps people.